Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Abstinence is Contraception

Something that really gets my goat is how intolerant and unkind people from all walks of life are toward people who have unplanned pregnancies. Since I've been reading Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Church's views are on my mind, but this article should be broadly applicable, even if I focus too narrowly.

The Catholic Church has some official doctrines regarding contraception and birth control, such as the Dignitas Personae and its predecessor Donum Vitae. To the Church's credit, they are unexpectedly consistent, condemning all forms of birth control. Even "the Catholic contraceptive," "Natural Family Planning," is frowned upon, though exceptions are made for NFP.

So far, I think we're in pretty reasonable territory. The church wants as many people to experience life as is possible. Our current social, political, and physical boundaries could not contain this kind of population growth, but I'm sure we could find solutions to those problems. I am behind the idea that everyone deserves rights from conception, and I can understand the idea, without necessarily supporting it, that everyone deserves the right to be conceived.

So far so good, right? Unfortunately, the Church also condemns "juridical tolerance of unmarried couples." You know, like Mary & Joseph when she were pregnant with Jesus. I suppose Mary and Joseph had to suffer to test their faith. Even if holiness-inducing-suffering is the reason the Church advocates "juridicial" intolerance, the Church should advocate individual tolerance, acceptance, compassion, and support.

Clearly I'm no expert on Catholic doctrine, but I am knowledgable. As I understand the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, he was intolerant only of intolerance. The Son of Man, as he called himself, was patient with prostitutes and extortionists and impatient with judgmental religious leaders. He famously mouthed off to a jury that was prepared to execute an adulterer. His mother was an unwed, pregnant teenager.

Abstinence, like condoms, hormone pills, and NFP, is contraceptive. By not having sexual intercourse each time the urge arises, we deny potential human beings the chance to be conceived. I say this sincerely.

The Catholic Church views conception as an inalienable right. Personally, I think conception, like most good things, is wonderful in moderation. Either way, a pregnant woman is sacrificing time, energy, and even space in her body for a new person. Regardless of how or why that child was conceived, pregnant women should be cared for and revered, not ostracized and marginalized.

Let's provide extra services for unplanned mothers. Let's give them everything they need for their children to be healthy. Let's honor them for the service they are providing to their children and the world. Let's be tolerant and kind to them.